About 200,000 deportation cases have been tossed by courts during the Biden administration because of paperwork delays at the Department of Homeland Security, according to a recent report.

“Approximately 200,000 deportation cases have been thrown out by immigration judges since the start of the Biden administration because the Department of Homeland Security hadn’t filed the required Notice to Appear with the court by the time of the scheduled hearing,” according to a late March report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

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“Without a proper filing, the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case and the immigrants, often asylum seekers, lack a way to move their case forward.”

The report analyzes the latest available data through February 2024, looking at both the numbers of cases dismissed and efforts by DHS officials to rectify their original filing failures.

“While immigration judges handle a variety of case types, not all of which require an NTA, removal cases account for the vast majority of cases. Fully 97% of the over 1 million court cases already initiated this fiscal year (October 2023-February 2024) have been removal cases. Thus, almost all immigration court cases are removal cases for which DHS must file an NTA for the case to go forward.”

The report explains cases dismissed for lack of an NTA a decade ago were few, but a change to the system that gave Border Patrol agents and other DHS personnel access to court scheduling resulted in a drastic spike in dismissed cases.

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“DHS has been able to block off the court’s valuable limited time by scheduling hearings for cases that do not legally exist, because DHS has not filed the required NTA before the hearing,” the report read. “With immigration judges staring down 3.5 million pending immigration cases, every wasted hearing is a hearing that could have moved another case forward or resolved it.”

In addition, the lack of an NTA halts proceedings for asylum seekers, which blocks their ability to gain work permits, shifting their needs for food, shelter and other essentials to taxpayers.

While the dismissals have declined some in recent years, court filings in general have rapidly increased. Regardless, the dismissed cases spiked from 708 of 342,316 new cases, or about 0.2%, in 2018 to 8,192 of 673,395 new cases, or about 1.2%, in 2019. The numbers continued to grow – peaking at 79,592 or 10% of new cases in 2021 – before declining some to 68,869 dismissals in 2023, and 10,598 through February 2024.

The report notes that the dismissals varied significantly by location.

“Apart from IAD designated hearing locations apparently dealing with problematic filings, the Houston, Texas, immigration court and the courts dedicated docket in Miami, Florida, are clear standouts, with 50% or more of their new cases dismissed for this reason since FY 2021,” the report read.

Places like Detroit, Mich., are more representative of the average, with 4% or 252 of 6,580 cases dismissed for lack of an NTA. DHS reissued the NTA in about a quarter of the cases nationally, according to the report.

“This report provides an incomplete picture. Troubling is the almost total lack of transparency on where and why these DHS failures occurred,” the report read. “Equally troubling is the lack of solid information on what happened to these many immigrants when DHS never rectified its failure by reissuing and filing new NTAs to restart their court cases.”